To become a Dad, there are only two basic items I would need to survive the running of the gauntlet: 1) Money. 2) Heaps and heaps of it.
I have an admission to make. I know nothing about babies.
Every hobbyist out there knows that with a vested pleasure, activity comes with a lot of baggage (read: equipment). Take myself as an example. I like DIY projects and small home renovations. I find them really therapeutic as I channel my male rage on interesting designs, colouring and styles. With all these pleasing aesthetics come a variety of paints, brushes, outdoor tools, crafting equipment and, if I was a complete DIY nut job, a shed complete with work bench and power tools.
I also love football. Cue obligatory matching outfits and colour-coordinated designs and various sporting trimmings such as boots, socks, guards, shin pads and balls. Can we ever have enough equipment? No.
But to become a Dad, there are only two basic items I would need to survive the running of the gauntlet:
2) Heaps and heaps of it.
A quick glance at that list suggests I have asked for more than I have bargained for. It’s easy to become a father – just a few seconds of immense pleasure and satisfaction with your missus – but somebody must have forgotten to tell me what happens after.
Often, I find myself clinging tightly on to my wallet as I stroll down Baby Bunting, one of Australia’s most popular chain of baby products stores. Spotting me is easy as I am the poor sod who sports a rather desperate and ‘get-me-out-of-here’ look while my very pregnant wife takes a slow gander and looks favourably upon every product like it’s the be-all-and-end-all for Baby.
If having to purchase the entire shop wasn’t enough, a quick glance at the price tags of individual products will reduce a grown man to tears. I wasn’t kidding when I said a Daddy needs heaps of money. Those baby companies are really smart. Babies are a never-ending, multi-billion dollar commodity that continues to grow regardless of the state of the economy. People will always be having lots of sex and making lots of babies. And where there are babies, there must be baby products. That. cost. a. lot.
I once wrote with great disdain on annoying parents pushing their 4WD strollers as they completely block out a supermarket aisle or obstruct a pedestrian walkway as the baby sits securely within a fortress Osama bin Laden might fancy hiding in.
Well fast forward two years and I am now the kettle (or pot, depending on which way you look at it). A kettle who has purchased a very expensive stroller equipped with bullet-proof armour, laser beams and above all else, a weather shield. And that’s standard across all models. I guess it’s worth the money; not only did it look a treat with my imaginary child in it, my groceries sat in the back seat as the stroller occupied the entire boot!
Somewhere between walking out Baby Bunting and realising I no longer have enough money for food for the rest of the week, Michele and I also purchased a child seat. Flowing smoothly with the expensive theme, the child seat doesn’t disappoint and comes complete with cup holders (for used nappies), height adjustable seat (because Baby can’t look out the window) and side guards (to prevent leakage…hang on…).
I question the need for a child seat. Growing up I never had a need for them. I remember standing between the passenger and driver seats, jumping around or sticking my head out the window. All these while my Dad was hurtling down the freeway at 100km/h! Children these days are at the whims and fancies of ridiculous rules and regulations created by stuffy librarians with their six-figure salaries whose sole purpose is to cause more financial grief to parents.
Speaking of financial grief, somebody needs to shoot the person who’s setting the price of diapers. Exorbitant! $40 for a box of 108 diapers?! For an inanimate object that requires a gas mask upon approaching, and a baby goes through roughly ten each day. No wonder children are potty trained as early as possible, it’s only for the benefit of their selfish parents thinking about their wallets!
Selfish parents who hold on to discount coupons on listed diaper days so they can be purchased for $33 each. Selfish parents who refuse to buy first hand, waiting out instead for hand-me-downs from friends and families, because $20 for a size 000 ‘If you think I’m cute, you should see my Daddy!’ top is a serial waste of money. Or selfish parents who patrol the aisles of discounted preloved products, hoping to snare a bargain before another parent picks it up.
(Note: I am not one of those above-mentioned selfish parents. You just have to pry this wonderful cheap breast pump away from my cold, dead hands.)
Before I get too carried away and start an entire post on ‘How to buy baby products for cheap’, let’s not omit the real star of the show here: the baby furniture.
Michele and I are lucky in that we had a spare bedroom which we could convert into Baby’s room. Inspired by the wonderful imagination of designer bedrooms from showrooms and magazines we decided to draw some inspiration by purchasing the furniture first hand.
First hand furniture also went eh..hand in hand (pardon the pun) with a fresh coat of paint and a complete clean out of the room’s contents. Die-hard renovationalists take note: no matter how hard you try, you will never be able to achieve the look you saw in that baby magazine. They were designed by architects, fitted out by interior decorators, photographed by professionals and paid for in cash by the millionaire owners.
Suffice to say the end result in Baby’s room bears some resemblance to the public day care centre down the road. But that’s another story.
So here’s my one big tip for all the Daddies-to-be out there. You might not know anything about being a father, but showing up with the great equalizer and maxing it out makes you look extremely competent and your missus will forgive you for not knowing the difference between a breast pad and a maternity bra.
And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you really aren’t ready to be a Daddy.
Editor’s Note: This is part 5 of the pregnancy diary series.